Female Power Anthem of Choice: ‘This is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’
As a woman in both show and business, it’s no surprise the power anthem “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” strikes a chord with Brittany Wiscombe.
“The song empowers you to not be afraid to stand up and show who you are,” Brittany says. “You can’t let the negative voices drag you down. Be proud of who you are, and help lift others around you so they feel love and respect.”
Audiences know Brittany best as the screenwriter of “Singing with Angels” and “An Hour Behind,” but her newest screenplay to hit the big screen — “In Emma’s Footsteps”— added the title of director to her resume.
This is Brittany’s first film from the view of the director’s chair. She gained a new perspective for movie-making not yet provided by her 17 years of experience in the film industry.
“You see how everything you put on page of a script has to be done,” Brittany says. “Because I had written the script and was directing, I knew it inside and out. It wasn’t hard to make certain decisions because I knew the whole scope.”
“In Emma’s Footsteps” recounts the experiences of Emma Smith after the death of her husband, Joseph Smith Jr., first prophet of the LDS Church. When she began writing the script, Brittany took a somewhat fictional approach, but she discovered that wasn’t how she wanted to tell this story.
“The goal of ‘In Emma’s Footsteps’ is to show what it could have been like for her,” Brittany says.
Understanding the core of a person — all the brave and bruised parts — was a theme for Brittany when writing “In Emma’s Footsteps.” (Talk about drowning out the sharpest words.)
“And I know that I
deserve your love.
There’s nothing I’m not
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down,
I’m gonna send a flood,
gonna drown them out.
This is brave.
This is bruised.
This is who I’m meant to be. This is me.”
Brittany spent months in the development and research stages and wrote at least four versions of the script. Immersing herself in the life of Emma, Brittany found herself relating to the family roles.
“Emma Smith was a mother,” says this mother of two. “She lost a lot of children. Obviously, she was a widow. I feel just a glimpse of what that might have been like. It was a bonus to identify with her on that level.”
Brittany added “mother” to her list of roles for “In Emma’s Footsteps.” Her son, Cole, played the role of young Alexander Smith.
After holding auditions, she realized casting her son was a strategic choice.
“I didn’t have the confidence that I’d be able to get what I needed from them in the same way that I’d be able to with my son,” she says. “I know my son. I know what he can do. I know I can explain things in a way that will help him understand.”
The role was a win for Cole — especially when he discovered craft services, “which is a perpetual snack table,” Brittany says.
Working with family is not a new circus act for Brittany. In 2002, Brittany graduated from BYU in print journalism — setting her up as an articulate writer — and started working with her family’s film company, Candlelight Media Group, as a productions assistant.
When the company shifted its focus to producing more original content around 2004, Brittany became the designated screenwriter.
“In the beginning years, there didn’t seem to be a line between work and family,” Brittany says. “Now we try to preserve weekends. We preserve evenings. We try to have a line where we can be with our own families or be together as a family without bringing up work.”
As a screenwriter, mother, and now director, Brittany can say, “this is who I’m meant to be. This is me.”
When writing scripts, Brittany often will listen to film scores. Hans Zimmer pieces are a favorite, especially “The Last Samurai.”
“Music plays a huge part of writing because it sets the tone,” Brittany says. “It’s a good way to keep the creativity flowing.”
It’s also a smart way to keep the relaxation flowing. Brittany started learning how to play the cello about a year and a half ago.
“Especially now, when there’s so much to do, it’s been my break and way to recharge,” she says.